August 2019

Inexpensive Commanders: DE, Iver Johnson, Taurus, Kimber

We tested a Desert Eagle and three other Commanders in the low-to-medium-price range, and found we would buy three of them. But one needed more tuning than first-time buyers may wish to attempt.

Inexpensive Commanders: DE, Iver Johnson, Taurus, Kimber

The four pistols tested are, top to bottom, the Iver Johnson Hawk, the Taurus 1911 Commander, Kimber Pro Carry, and Desert Eagle 1911C. Three of the handguns were worth their price, we felt. We discounted the Iver Johnson Hawk from consideration for personal defense due to its defects. The Taurus Commander handgun will put a reliable 1911 into the hands of shooters who might not be able to afford such as handgun otherwise, but it had a problem with the grip-safety engagement that required thoughtful and careful intervention. The Kimber is a nice handgun well worth its price. The Desert Eagle is narrowly more accurate and slightly better on the combat firing course than the Kimber, but the Desert Eagle 1911C is also a heavier steel-frame pistol. Some will prefer the Kimber Pro Carry for carry because it is a slightly shorter and lighter pistol.

Among the most popular handguns of the previous 70 years is the Commander-type 1911 45 ACP. The Commander is a shortened version of the original 1911 and was introduced to compete for a military contract way back in the day. Like the modern Glock 19X and Beretta APX, the Colt Commander was not adopted by the U.S. Army, but it proved to be a commercial success, nonetheless. The Commander was a Government Model modified with a shorter slide and barrel and shorter dust cover on the frame. A rowel-type hammer and short grip safety completed the modifications. The original Commander retained the Government Model’s barrel bushing, but the bushing was shortened. Today, there are numerous variations of these features, but the length of the slide and frame are used to identify the pistol as a Commander Model.

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